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For journalists, the answer depends on whether they are covering the shopping season or company layoffs.

Last year, I sensed that journalists in general prefer to call this time of the year in commerce that of "holiday shopping" instead of "Christmas shopping," but that when it came to people losing their jobs, they preferred to describe layoffs as relating to "Christmas."

My instincts were proven correct, as you can see below from the results of three different sets of Google News searches in November and December (links to last year's related posts are here, here, and here):


I've decided to track the same items this year to see if there is any noticeable change or trend.

Based on the first set of Google News searches during this Christmas season, I would say there is:

Putin's Russia poses a potentially serious threat to the United States. But America lacks the moral standing to confront it. That was the view expressed by Ellen Ratner on this morning's Fox & Friends. Ratner, the short, liberal side of 'The Long & the Short of It' duo [seen here in file photo], expressed little doubt that Putin's government was behind the murder of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko.

Ratner: "I think that there's no question. If I were a betting woman it would be 100% Putin and Russia, it's just their operation and they have the means to do it."

She continued: "We have got to take a very good, careful look at Russia. We're in Iraq where you have sort of a ragtag group of insurgents. And we're not focusing on the Russians that have over 5,000 nukes [and other WMDs] . . . Unfortunately, we're in business with these guys, we need their oil."

That's when Ratner asserted that America's alleged moral failings limited its options:

"I don't know what we should do except that we are not in a great position because we don't have the moral standing given what we're doing in Iraq."

Fox News Watch led this week's show with Brent Bozell's condemnation of the press' coverage of the just-concluded congressional campaign. Host Eric Burns noted that Bozell is "head of an influential conservative media watchdog group called the Media Research Center" - which also happens to be the parent organization of NewsBusters.

FNW played a video clip of Bozell stating:

And here I thought I was joking.  Yesterday, I closed this item on Maureen Dowd's column - in which she longed for an Iraqi dictator to whom to surrender - by wondering whether we should "look for Dowd to pop up in Baghdad sometime soon, leading a 'Bring Back Saddam' movement?"

CNN’s Kyra Phillips invited comedian Paul Mooney and radio talk show host Roland Martin on to “Newsroom” Tuesday to discuss the Michael Richards (“Kramer”) issue (hat tip to NB member MyKindaSpam). During the conversation, both guests made what many would perceive as being rather anti-Semitic remarks.

This was Martin’s:

Another piece is when you really examine what he said, he not only said 50 years ago we'd have you hanging upside down from a tree. Well, guess what, 50 years ago, Michael Richards would have been in some oven in Germany being baked because he's also Jewish.

Yikes. Mooney must have felt he needed to top that, for later in the discussion, he said:

From page one of today's Washington Post, an article by Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin that begins with a reference to "the scientific consensus about climate change" as if the "consensus" were an established fact:
While the political debate over global warming continues, top executives at many of the nation's largest energy companies have accepted the scientific consensus about climate change and see federal regulation to cut greenhouse gas emissions as inev

There is perhaps no better time to speak well of someone than when they pass away. But tributes can be excessive to the point where the truth is utterly lost, and low moments of someone's career are glossed over. When we lose presidents, partisans of one stripe or the other think the celebration risks ignoring or going beyond the facts of history.

Anyone who tunes into late-night comedy shows knows that many black comedians utter the n-word with rapid-fire frequency. Perhaps Michael Richards mistakenly thought that what was sauce for the goose was sauce for the white gander. In any case, in a Today show appearance this morning, Jesse Jackson declared that he would be working to "prohibit" the use of the word. He didn't offer specifics, but one question naturally arises.

Patterico's Pontifications blog has done some stellar detective work on a particular L.A. Times story wherein the Times claims that U.S. forces attacked a town with an aerial strike that killed 30 Iraqis, including women and children.

The Times also reported that widespread destruction resulted from this reported "bombardment".

Maureen Dowd: law-and-order fan? And here I thought liberals like to pose as champions of human rights . . .

But consider Dowd's idea of an Iraq solution: find brutal dictators to whom we can surrender and who will impose "law and order." Working model: the US capitulation to the Communist dicators of Hanoi.

The title of her subscription-required column of this morning, No One to Lose To, says it all. Dowd's biggest regret is, yes, that there's no obvious thug, or thugocracy, to whom to surrender. Dowd approvingly quotes Neil Sheehan, a former Times reporter in Vietnam who wrote “A Bright Shining Lie” as saying:

“In Vietnam, there were just two sides to the civil war. You had a government in Hanoi with a structure of command and an army and a guerrilla movement that would obey what they were told to do. So you had law and order in Saigon immediately after the war ended. In Iraq, there’s no one like that for us to lose to and then do business with.”

It started with this post at One Oar in the Water, comparing the LA Times' reporting of an incident at Ramadi to portions of a soldier's e-mail about the same incident.

Since it concerned a story allegedly seriously misreported by the Los Angeles Times, it seemed only logical for yours truly to ask Patterico, the blogosphere's designated LA Times fisker, to investigate further.

Thankfully, he did, and, as usual, he has done a splendid job. The LA Times' "Silent Solomon" Moore (you'll see why he gets the nickname from me when you read the post) does not come off looking good. Or maybe he should be called Solomon "Room Service" Moore.

There is no substitute for reading the whole thing, but here are Patterico's core findings:

Actual caption:

We lead fairly schizophrenic lives during the Christmas season in America. Our popular holiday rituals are bifurcated between the sacred and the secular; between the very worldly commercial extravaganza of Christmas as offered by our department stores – when they have the guts to employ the word “Christmas” – and Christianity celebrating the birth of Our Lord.

Time magazine has an online poll to get an unscientific idea of how their annual Person of the Year should be. It breaks down into American Republicans (President Bush, Secretary of State Rice), American Democrats (Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore), the Axis of Evil (Kim Jong Il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and unofficial new member Hugo "Bush Is Satan" Chavez), and just to be trendy, the "YouTube Guys."

With gratitude to Providence and thanks to all who kept me in their thoughts and prayers, I'm happy to be home from Iraq. I arrived in Ithaca last night at about 9 PM, about 43 hours after beginning the journey home from Baghdad. Naturally there were a few more plot twists along the way.